Next stop Westminster for ministerial approval

25 January 2019

A combined fire authority for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight looks set to go ahead after councillors and fire chiefs unanimously voted in favour of the merger, following a 12-week public consultation.

Currently, the mainland service is made up of crews from Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth. The merger means that these authorities and the Isle of Wight will be brought together as one.

Eleven stations on the Isle of Wight will receive £3 million to bring them in line with standards across the rest of the area.

It has been estimated that to take over the island’s service, the combined authority will need to find an extra £460,000 a year to ‘properly maintain’ it. Combining assets to reduce unnecessary spending and the council tax rise will help bridge the funding gap, fire bosses said.

Island residents, businesses and parish councillors have already expressed concerns  that the merger will result in a rise in council tax, as well as a loss of control and accountability locally.

Neil Odin, chief fire officer, said: "We have absolutely listened to those views, however small the numbers, to make sure we have not missed anything in our proposed business case. 53% of people who responded to the consultation were in favour and a large proportion of staff across the two services were as well."

Original sources
BBC News
Southern Daily Echo